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Review article

The effects of different training modalities on bone mass: a review

Cvita Gregov ; Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, Croatia
Sanja Šalaj ; Faculty of Kinesiology, University of Zagreb, Croatia

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It is evident that there are a large number of studies dealing with the problem of osteoporosis due to the exponential growth of fracture occurrence in elderly population. The risk for fracture is closely related to the natural loss of bone mass in women and men as a result of aging. Due to obvious demographic changes in age, i.e. an overall process of population aging, the number of fractures is higher than expected which indicates that bone quality is deteriorating from one generation to the next. In order to prevent the deterioration it is necessary to come up with appropriate prophylactic and therapeutic methods. Apart from standard methods comprising of calcium and vitamin D supplementation which don’t have a great effect on bone, one of the best non-pharmacological methods for lifelong improvement of bone mass is physical exercise, or participation in quality training, as evidenced by number of studies. Of course, practical work and scientific research indicate that not all exercise modalities are equally efficient in improving bone mass, i.e. there are modalities that can significantly affect the bone quality and there are those that don’t have a notable influence on the same. Therefore, it is necessary to determine most efficient physical exercise modalities for in improving bone mass quality in different age groups through inspection of previous studies. The importance of physical activity in enhancing bone quality, i.e. increasing bone mass and strength is
evidenced by number of studies showing positive effects of sport and various types of training on above mentioned properties. This is supported by results of studies which indicate that training is potentially superior to supplementation of essential minerals for metabolism and bone mass. Regarding type of training, or type
of physical activity with the highest potential for increasing bone mass, there are two activities that stand out – performing with great loadings and jump exercises, that is, strength training and plyometric training. Another type of training focused on increasing bone mass that stands out lately is vibration training, but compared to other two which are more appropriate for young population, due to its simplicity and safety it is appropriate for elderly population. Aerobic training significantly effects cardiovascular health and shows certain indications for improving or at least maintaining bone mass. Therefore, if we want to maintain optimal bone mass throughout life it is recommended to participate in systematic sports training from early childhood and to regularly involve oneself in physical activities, especially those creating greater ground reaction forces and with external loading larger than those of everyday life, on a regular basis over longer periods of time. It is a challenging task to give valid conclusion about optimal loading parameters for specific types of
training due to inconsistency in methodological approaches and, often, controversial findings. Hence, future research should focus on: a) determining optimal loading parameters for specific types of training and age groups with a uniform methodology; b) topological effects of specific exercises, especially in strength and jump trainings; c) determining effects of agility training as a potential protocol for developing bone mass in young population; and d) determining residual effects of training focused on gaining bone mass, that is, the effects of detraining.


bone mineral density, osteoporosis, exercise, strength, plyometrics

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